Happy Ancient Egyptian New Year!

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Throughout the month of September, Egypt will celebrate the 6,256th Ancient Egyptian New Year, which is equivalent to the first day of the new agricultural year in Ancient Egypt.

Official and unofficial festivals will be held at ancient monumental sites across the country and will be attended by top officials, public figures, foreign embassy representatives, artists and intellectuals.

Here are some of the celebrations in the Minya governorate.

Nearly 7,000 years ago, Ancient Egyptians were among the first nations to celebrate a new year.

Ancient Egyptian culture was closely tied to the Nile River, and it appears their New Year celebrations corresponded with its annual flood.

The Egyptian New Year was predicted when “Sirius” (the brightest star in the night sky) first became visible after a 70-day absence, known as a heliacal rise. This phenomenon typically occurred in mid-July just before the annual inundation of the Nile River, which helped ensure that farmlands remained fertile for the coming year.

Egyptians celebrated this new beginning with a festival known as “Wepet Renpet“, which means “opening of the year.”

A temple Painting showing Ancient Egyptians celebrating “Wepet Renpet” (photo: Classroom Synonym)

On New Year’s Day—the day the Nile actually began flooding—Egyptians celebrated by exchanging presents, usually small amulets of Sekhmet (the lion-headed goddess) or Bastet (the cat-headed goddess).

The ancient civil Egyptian calendar had a year that was 365 days long and was divided into 12 months with 30 days each, in addition to five extra days at the end of the year.

The months were divided into three weeks of ten days each.

The ancient Egyptian year was almost a quarter of a day shorter than the solar year which gave rise to the notion of the annus vagus or having it called the “wandering year”.

The Ancient Egyptian Calendar, known in Latin as Annus Vagus or “Wandering Year” (photo: Ancient Egyptian Facts)